PITTSBURGH -- Folks at Pittsburgh Steelers headquarters remain flabbergasted about the ongoing Ben Roethlisberger drama, created by reports that the veteran quarterback, Steelers president Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin have all publicly refuted in some form or fashion.
Roethlisberger went on WDVE-FM Friday morning -- contacting the show Thursday night after the NFL Network reported that he may want out of Pittsburgh after this season and that the Steelers are unhappy with his game preparation -- and offered yet another vehement denial that his long-term commitment to the franchise is wavering.
Roethlisberger’s future was not a hot topic in the Steelers’ locker room following the team’s final practice of the week. Free safety Ryan Clark shrugged it off and said such matters become an issue when a team is not winning.
“We roll off seven straight [wins], get to the playoff then it won’t matter,” said Clark, who is a team captain along with Roethlisberger and defensive end Brett Keisel. “But when you’re not winning, there seems to be a reason why you would want out. Right now it’s just rumors. As long as [Roethlisberger] is playing hard for us on Sunday, as long as he’s doing what it takes for us to go out here and win games, nobody cares.”
LaMarr Woodley agreed.
“I haven’t followed it, but it’s definitely not a distraction at all,” the Steelers outside linebacker said. “We’ve still got a lot of football left, and all I’m focused on is what’s going on the field this year.”
My take: Someone believable is talking, whether it’s inside the Steelers organization -- or more likely the locker room -- or someone who was recently with the team. The NFL Network would have backed off the story, not added another layer to it Thursday night, if that weren’t the case.
But people I have talked to at team headquarters are genuinely shocked that this is still a story and dismissive about whether it will distract the Steelers -- at least for now.
Unless there is a well-choreographed acting job being pulled off at all levels of the Steelers’ organization, Roethlisberger isn’t going anywhere.